Green Opera and Community Jameel's 'At the statue of venus' / 'La Voix humaine' review

Environmentally-sustainable opera company, Green Opera's double bill of 'At the statue of venus' by Jake Heggie and 'La Voix humaine' by Francis Poulenc, co-produced by Community Jameel as part of Arcola Theatre's Grimeborn Festival 2023, is a lucid and absorbingly-rich performance of two women's divergent experiences of love, hope and loss, writes The Stage.

Starring Egyptian soprano Laura Mekhail, who was the 2021 recipient of the Andrea Bocelli Foundation-Community Jameel Scholarship, 'Venus' centres on 'Rose', who waits beside a museum exhibit for her blind date to arrive. She frets about what she’s wearing, looks on enviously at the other women, and wonders whether she will ever be admired like the muses in the surrounding artworks. Laura, who recently completed her diploma at the Royal College of Music as a Bocelli-Jameel Scholar, guides the audience through a rollercoaster of emotions and thoughts: from self-doubt to awkwardness, punctuated with flashes of humour. 'She sings with an attractively bright tone', matching Rose’s excitement, and she’s capable of effortless power'. She also harnesses the nostalgia in the 'Lucky child' aria, where Rose fondly remembers the warmth of her loving family life growing up.

In 'La Voix', soprano Katherine McIndoe is 'a deeply absorbing 'Elle', less hysterical and psychodramatic than some, but alert to everything said by her lover over the phone, a side of the conversation that the audience never hears'. The role presents a huge challenge in rendering the speech patterns of the text, while maintaining tonal interest, something Katherine achieves to great effect. Her tone is both 'lucid and absorbingly rich' in this distinguished interpretation, which future performances will render 'utterly commanding'.

Photo: Nick Rutter

The Stage